1 December 2020

We have to raise the ugly head because it’s not a fashionable discussion by the government.
The government know, they just choose not to implement the recommendations and not make them accountable.

Marcia Rigg

The Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) has added pressure on the Government to implement recommendations highlighted by INQUEST as fundamental to addressing anti-Black racism and discrimination in policing.

In their report, which followed on from the death of George Floyd and the subsequent Black Lives Matter protests, the cross-party committee of MPs and peers conclude: Whilst the issues of racial inequality have been the subject of repeated reviews, the lack of progress in implementing the findings of those reviews has become a source of intense frustration and concern. Where actions have been taken, they have often been superficial and not had lasting effect.

The report backs INQUEST’s call that recommendations from the 2017 Angiolini review on Deaths and Serious Incidents in Police Custody referencing institutional racism, race or discrimination must be responded to and taken forward as a matter of urgency.

Download INQUEST’s submission

To inform our evidence, INQUEST spoke with family members of Black people who had died in police custody, prison or mental health settings, who INQUEST have supported through the investigation and inquest processes. Families told us they felt disillusioned by the cyclical nature of reviews, reports and recommendations and the frustration that their experiences regrettably echoed those of families newly bereaved despite the years between them.

The JCHR report that the majority (over 75%) of Black people in the UK do not believe their human rights are equally protected compared to white people. This comes as no surprise in the context of our work supporting bereaved families which has repeatedly exposed violence, racism and inhumane attitudes towards black people in distress leading to the fatal use of force and neglect by the state.

The final report from the JCHR calls into question the extent to which the mechanisms for protecting human rights and promoting racial equality is serving its purpose. INQUEST has long campaigned for a National Oversight Mechanism which would strengthen processes of oversight, action and accountability for the implementation of recommendations from inquests. In this regard we welcome their recommendation that the government consider establishing a Commissioner or Office of Article 2 compliance to ensure that the correct processes are followed in cases requiring Article 2 ECHR investigations.

Further information

In June 2020, Civil rights and civil liberties lawyers and campaigners wrote a letter standing with family of George Floyd and Black Lives Matter and drawing attention to the systemic and institutional racism faced by Black people in the UK.

In Justice Matters: essays from the pandemic, Deborah Coles writes about how the Black Lives Matter protests and the murder of George Floyd provided the impetus for renewed debates about state violence, structural racism, defunding the police and investing in community rather than criminal justice.

INQUEST’s full submission to the inquiry is available online.

The United Families and Friends Campaign also provided a written submission to the inquiry.